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Material analysis: RINA invests in new scanning electron microscope

Degradation of the alumina layer in an electrolytic capacitor

RINA, certification, inspection, testing and consulting multinational, has invested in a state-of-the-art Scanning Electron Microscope with Field Emission Gun (FEG-SEM) to enhance the level of material analysis service it can provide to its customers.

This new equipment will mean customers will benefit from faster and more detailed analysis of component failures, new material developments and asset life condition assessment.

The Carl Zeiss Sigma 300 SEM with Schottky hot field emission gun provides more than 200,000 times magnification, increased image contrast and brightness, and enhanced X-mapping capabilities.

RINA customised the original microscope specification to include three additional detectors, manufactured by Oxford Instruments.

These units include an Energy Dispersive X-Ray Detector, a Wavelength Dispersive X-Ray Spectrometer and a CMOS Electron Back Scattered Detector.

The microscope represents one of only a handful with such a configuration worldwide and will enable RINA to provide new services, including phase identification, grain size determination and orientation measurements.

Dr Stephen Pitman, Team Lead Forensic Engineering, at RINA, commented: “New material developments require imaging and measurement of particular nanoparticles that control crucial properties such as strength and elasticity.

The new machine has already enabled us to measure nanometre-scale gamma prime precipitation within a nickel-based superalloy, determining degradation levels and the identification of trace elements on a fracture surface helping us establish the cause of failure and recommend corrective actions.”

RINA has vast experience and expertise in materials analysis, with deep technical understanding and specialist analytical capability.

The new FEG-SEM, which is sited in the RINA laboratory in Leatherhead, UK, will support clients across energy, renewables, heavy industry, steel production, defence, marine, rail and infrastructure sectors as well as many equipment and component manufacturers. It will help them by providing more comprehensive analysis in shorter times, enabling them to respond more quickly to issues, increase safety and drive further innovation and competitive edge into their businesses.

Pitman went on to say: “The services we provide are a fine balance between in-depth understanding of materials and engineering, analytical expertise and cutting-edge equipment. Our experience and specialist personnel make us a world-leader. The new FEG-SEM moves us to an even higher level in our capability to serve our clients and help them achieve their goals.”

As well as providing faster, more accurate analysis of materials, the new FEG-SEM will help clients innovate through the development and testing of brand-new materials using complex techniques such as electron backscatter diffraction to reveal detailed material microstructure.

Pitman concluded: “Being able to provide clients with faster analysis will increase the efficiency of their operations. The breadth of analysis the new machine provides also opens the possibility for greater innovation in the development of new materials that can solve challenges and push the boundaries of application. We are excited about the opportunities this investment offers and are looking forward to our clients reaping the benefits of our enhanced material analysis services.”

Pic: Degradation of the alumina layer in an electrolytic capacitor.

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